Baby Essentials – That every new Mum needs for under £50

As every new Mum knows, the high street and internet are full of hundreds of baby products for new parents to choose from. Even though my girls are now 4 and 7 the choice of bibs for example has multiplied to another level since they were being weaned. I am a self confessed shop-oholic, so when it came to buying bits for my babies I was of course scouring the baby boutiques for the ‘must haves’. ‘Of course we need a cream cashmere baby blanket’ I said to persuade my sceptical husband. And of course he was right, we didn’t need anything that was hand wash only.

What I wish someone had really told me, was what I actually need that didn’t break the bank. Essential baby bits that create better quality sleep, stimulate your baby enough to make them sleep, help through those tricky teething days and products that wash and travel well.

Images: c/o Babydino.com  

  1. These brilliant Buggy Clips weren’t around when I had my first daughter but I’ll admit I stalked a mum in Sainsburys who had one dangling off her buggy just to get a closer look. No more shoving all your shopping bags under your minuscule buggy basket, these sturdy clips are great and fit all buggy types.
  2. A sleeping bag is an absolute must for when your baby out grows being swaddled. No more baby getting cold from kicking off his blankets in the night! These Gro Company sleeping bags start from new born and go up to 36 months. And with so many gorgeous designs to choose from throughout the seasons you’ll find it a permanent item for your baby’s bedtime routine.
  3. Another genius idea from the Gro Company is this portable black out blind. Once you’ve got home life sorted, it’s time to re-engage your social life and stay at friends houses. All I can say it once you’ve slept in a guest room with a flimsy curtain when your baby is use to their blacked out bedroom, you soon realise why this blind was created. It fits any type of window and we still take ours abroad with us on Summer holiday each year. Thank you Gro Company.
  4. I’ve banged on before at how much I think swaddling is the key to settling an unsettled baby and I literally could not have survived without giant swaddles. Mopping up baby sick, catching the milk drips, and now my 4 year old takes her ‘muzzie’ to bed, these basic but essential pieces of fabric should be in every new mum’s baby bag.
  5. Breastfeeding is a wonderful way to provide the best nutritional start for your baby’s life. But it’s a skill both you and your baby need to learn, it takes time and patience and can be back breaking. My shoulders were permanently hunched over until my Mum bought me one of these. Great for giving you arms extra support and ensuring your baby is in the correct ‘tummy to mummy’ position. This Chicco Boppy pillow has a removable washable cover and can be used as a support pillow as your baby learns to sit up.
  6. I remember one friend telling me her newborn only settled when she did the hovering or ran the shower. Nonsense I thought until I had my own baby and tested this out. Luckily the Cloud B on the go Sleep Sheep (try saying that after too many glasses of wine) is far more practical than taking your Dyson out with you in the park. This  can easily clip onto your pram or car seat and plays an array of noises aimed to help soothe your baby to sleep.
  7. So you’ve made the transition to being out and about but you know come 2pm you little one is going to need her afternoon nap. Until I bought one of these, I would make the trip back home to ensure my daughter was asleep in her blackout bedroom. But this Snoozeshade does just that – without you having to leave the pub! It also works brilliant on very hot days as it helps block 99% of harmful UV rays.
  8. No child can go through it’s teething life without owning a Sophie The Giraffe, so popular that I’m sure they hand them out when parents leave the hospital in France. Rubber, soft and squeaky she is the perfect companion for all babies of any age.
  9. Driving your precious new baby in a car is a nerve racking experience for any new Mum, and when your baby is still in a rear facing car seat you’re constantly trying to turn around to check on them. This Diono Easy View Mirror is a perfect way for any parent to clearly and safely see their baby without taking your concentration off the road.
  10. From an early age babies love looking at black and white shapes. This lovely Chicco Baby Senses Rattle is light and easy to grasp, for the smallest of hands, perfect to stimulate hand eye coordination in young babies.

*This is a sponsored post

Birth Story Of The Week – Abi and and Linus

Oooo I do love a birth story and one from a midwife too! Abi has 2 children and shares her birth story here of her second child Linus now 6 months old.

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As a midwife I’ve been privileged to have attended a lot of home births. My community mentor when I was a student midwife was a real home birth advocate and had a really high home birth rate for our area. I’ll never forget the thrill of getting those phone calls in the middle of the night to say a lady we had been looking after throughout pregnancy was in labour and to get there ASAP. It was a delight to see women at ease in the comfort of their own surroundings, relaxed and excited, interacting with their birth partner as normal, free from any of the “rules” in hospital. Inspired by these women doing birth their way, I knew even then when it came to having my babies I wanted to have them at home.

I’d been booked for home birth in 2011 with my daughter, but unfortunately needed inducing the week before my due date due to static growth and reduced amniotic fluid. However I still had a really positive experience, labouring in the pool and having a quick birth on dry land after about 6 hours of established labour.

However, when I got pregnant with my son I knew right away I would have him at home, all being well. It’s not even as if I’m particularly emotionally attached to our house, but having been through two horrendous hyperemesis pregnancies I felt even more strongly that hospital was not the place for me, having spent so much time there being rehydrated and patched up. I also felt keen to end my baby making days in the best way possible, to get, if you’ll forgive the word, some “closure”. Luckily apart from “just” the hyperemesis my pregnancy was pretty normal other than a bout of anaemia at 36 weeks. However, this wasn’t going to stop me achieving my dream of a home birth at the last hurdle, and a week of ferrous fumerate tablets and intensive spinach consumption sorted that out!

We’d hired a La Bassine birth pool from WaterBaby Birthing Hire and can thoroughly recommend their services. I’d also ordered a TENS machine as it had helped me so much with my first labour. I’d prepared home birth boxes rather than hospital bags with everything we might need for me or the baby, so my husband knew where to look or to just grab the boxes should I need transferring to hospital at any time. We had plenty of old towels and sheets as well as the essential biscuits and drinks for the midwives. We were good to go.

Having been induced before I had no idea when or how this baby might begin to come. It turned out he decided to come at the same gestation as his sister, 39+3. I’d been in a foul mood the night before (exactly 6 months ago tonight as I write this!), having been really sick that evening. I even text my midwife to tell her how fed up I was! She said in hindsight when she got that text she knew I was going to go into labour that night! As I went to bed I remarked grumpily to my husband what a state the house was in and how it was a good thing I wasn’t going to go into labour that night. Little did I know!

I woke up at 2:30 contracting out of the blue and they were regular, every 6 minutes, but short lasting. My husband was asleep in our daughters room, so I pottered around for a while doing jobs to make sure this was it before waking him. Quite soon the contractions went to every 2 minutes but still only lasting 30 seconds. However, by 4am they were still in this pattern so I felt sure the baby would be arriving that day so woke my husband with that old cliché “it’s time!”

I’d decided against having my daughter there for the birth. I would have loved her see her brother born but it would have been selfish of me as she is a sensitive soul and I was concerned I might get quite vocal during transition! So we called my parents to come collect her and they arrived at 6am, along with my wonderful midwife who I’ve worked alongside for the past 8 years and who looked after me so well through my awful pregnancy. I’ll never forget the look of excitement on my daughters gorgeous sleepy face as she came downstairs as usual that morning and saw us all standing there in the living room!

I put the TENS on and sat with my midwife chatting and having breakfast while my husband busied himself with setting the pool up. I still wasn’t in established labour but as I only had a 6 hour labour with my daughter we all knew it could kick off any time. Slowly but surely the contractions started lasting longer and became stronger. By about 8am my midwife encouraged me to get in the pool and I resisted thinking it was too soon, but soon changed my mind and was glad I did. The warm water is so wonderful and instantly relaxed me. I spent another couple of hours breathing through the increasingly strong contractions with the support of my husband and midwife.

At 10am I was struggling slightly so asked my midwife to examine me. I was 5cm dilated with intact membranes. At this point I felt I still had forever to go and asked for some entonox as it had helped me when I had my daughter. I remember feeling quite panicky at this stage, thinking it would be hours and hours and it was like a switch had flipped inside me. My midwife head had gone right out the window and although I was clearly in transition I *might* have started shouting for a hospital transfer, an epidural, a caesarean, anything to stop the pains coming. My husband told me this is exactly how I was in the final stages with my daughter but I couldn’t really make out anything anyone was saying to me.

Soon after something rather odd happened and I’m sure you’ll think I’m crazy but it was the most intense and strange experience I’ve ever had. Suddenly it felt like my head was underwater (it wasn’t!), like when you’re at a swimming pool and an hear the echoes of voices all around but the sound is muffled so you can’t make anything out. Time seemed to slow right down, almost to a slow shutter speed. It was almost like an out of body experience, but maybe I had just had a wee bit too much entonox! I wasn’t afraid, I just told my midwife I needed to push but was worried it was too soon. She told me to follow my body but I was convinced it was too early, however the urge was suddenly too strong to ignore.

After a couple of small pushes I felt everything stretching, and the midwife told my husband it was the bag of waters bulging outside my body. I remember thinking to myself “right, that’s how it will feel when he comes so just bloody get on with it!” and just breathed on the entonox as I felt his head emerge soon after. With the next push, at exactly 11:11am, Linus was born in the pool and I reached down to pick him up and bring him to my chest. We have a lovely video me holding him straight afterwards and I’m laughing and shouting “I did it! I did it!” It makes me well up with pride and love just thinking about it.

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I wanted a physiological third stage so pushed my placenta out in the pool about 20 minutes later. My midwife helped me out of the pool and checked me for perineal trauma but I didn’t need any stitches, which I was thrilled about having had a small episiotomy with my daughter. I breastfed Linus while my midwives did the paperwork etc and my husband pumped the water out of the pool. Then after that I had a wee and a shower they tucked me up in bed with a sleeping Linus, and within an hour they were gone and I was sipping my first cup of tea in 9 months and munching on pâté with crusty bread!

As I said my hospital birth was a largely positive experience, but it can’t compare with the home birth. I’m struggling to put into words how wonderful it was to be in my own home with a midwife who knew me and allowed me the freedom just to follow my instincts. I was high as a kite with happiness and pride for about two weeks afterwards! Every day when I’m sat in our front room where he was born I smile to myself and remember how it played out that day. I would do it all again in a heartbeat.”

Strike! Why Midwives Matter

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This morning I took part in something I feel very strongly about. I joined my fellow colleagues shoulder to shoulder in the pouring rain to strike. This is the first time in 133 years that midwives have taken industrial action. Us Midwives saw our pay frozen back in 2011, frozen again in 2012, before it rose 1% in 2013. On average the typical midwife’s pay had risen in line with prices since 2010, we would be paid over £4,000 more per year than we’re actually getting. What we’re really asking for is just a 1% rise. Yes that’s all, 1% and to make this point we were on strike from 7am to 11am this morning.

Midwives really do love their jobs, in fact it’s more than just a job (ask anyone married to a midwife). As fellow midwife Pam Ward describes today ‘Midwifery is a busy but fulfilling profession, and the care of women and their babies is paramount to us all. This is why my colleagues regularly work over their hours to meet the needs of the service. Most work very unsociable hours and many are on-call overnight, going out at a moment’s notice to give care to women in labour or at other times during their pregnancy or postnatal period. This is what the job demands, and we love it.’ I wouldn’t give up this profession because I believe all women deserve excellence in midwifery care, something the NHS is striving to do. Staff work flat out, often staying late and doing large amounts of unpaid overtime, as they try their hardest to give women the best possible care they can,” said Cathy Warwick of the Royal College of Midwives. “After years of stress, pressure and overwork, being told they face another year of rising bills – but static pay – is just too much.”

And it doesn’t sit well when I hear politicians claiming there’s no money left in the pot to accommodate the proposed 1% when these politicians got a 10% pay rise!

Within my little but amazing midwifery team yesterday, 3 midwives managed to safely deliver 3 babies. 1 in hospital and 2 at home, that’s 6 lives in their hands. I won’t go into detail if any of these midwives got a break yesterday but I do know one quick thinking midwife hailed down a Police van to to take to her to one home birth quickly, and she just made the birth.

I’m not here to dissect the down sides of our profession so to end on a positive note, my fellow colleagues have described why they love being a midwife. And as I sit here with my soggy placard drying on the radiator, I stare at my pager in anticipation as at any moment one of my women might need to call their midwife.

Seeing how amazingly strong and funny women can be. Oh and drinking a lot of tea. And driving home at dawn after a lovely birth feeling on top of the world!’ 

Making a difference regardless of the circumstances‘.

The unpredictability of each day.

The joy of seeing students become midwives at the end of a course’

To be a part of the most intimate journey in a woman’s life and to be trusted with that journey is such a privilege. To witness the miracle of birth and motherhood is a dream come true. I hope I forever love my job!’

Being privileged to share in the most awesomely intense time of a woman’s life, being reminded how amazing women are on a daily basis,  feeling supported and respected by my wonderful colleagues’

Being part of such a special journey… Giving support and encouraging through good times and bad’.

Tucking a couple up in bed in their own home with their baby. Seeing the strength of women to deal with what is thrown at them when things go far off script. My amazing midwifery colleagues who teach me, inspire me and humble me on an almost daily babies’. Wow that’s some pretty inspiring stuff there from other wonderful midwives out there.

Birth Story Of The Week – Lyndsay

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This is a tale of two birth stories, both very different. I’ve rewritten this numerous times. I’m not very good at showing my emotions, but believe me, this was difficult to write.

On November 17th 2012, our little boy, Dylan Alexander Hicks arrived – he was stillborn.

Our journey to hell and back started five days earlier when my boyfriend, Nick, and I went to a routine scan appointment. Instead of finding out the sex of our baby, we found out that there was something very wrong. We were told that there was no fluid around the baby, it was instantly clear from the sonographers face that this wasn’t good. It was confirmed the next day that the baby’s kidneys were either not functioning properly, or hadn’t developed at all. He had no chance of survival outside the womb. I don’t really know how to explain how it felt to be told this. Thinking back to that moment, I can see it as though I am an onlooker, I can see myself lying on the bed, crying so hard I couldn’t breathe. I think I kind of shut down after that.

Later that day we were taken in to a small room and joined by two women, I think one a consultant and one a midwife. They told us what was going to happen next, I didn’t hear anything they said. One of the women disappeared and came back a few minutes later with a plastic cup of water and a small paper cup with two pills. “You need to take these pills, we can wait a while if you prefer” she said, “I’ll have them now” I responded, and swallowed them in one gulp as if I were taking a couple of paracetamol. It didn’t dawn on me until the next day what the pills were for, “I feel different”, I told Nick, “I can suck my belly in”. Those pills were to end my baby’s life, how did I not realise that’s what they were for? I was angry at myself for being so stupid.

Two days later we were back in the hospital, I was going to be induced. As if I wasn’t hurting enough, I now had to give birth to my baby. It took 9 hours between the start of my induction and delivering the baby. I had a lot of blood taken for testing, this made me weak and woozy, I was given pain medication that made me violently sick, I was in a state of semi-consciousness, the only thing keeping me awake was the searing pain coming from my stomach. My head was lolling from side to side, I could see Nick and my mum looking at me worried, there was nothing they could do to help me, we just had to wait it out. Dylan was born just after 6pm, he was there, I could see him, his tiny lifeless body. “He’s the cutest thing I’ve ever seen!” I said to Nick, suddenly I was fully conscious. I was so happy to see him, which seems crazy, but the sadness had taken a backseat for a while. The midwife wrapped him in a blanket, put a tiny hat on his head and lay him in a basket, I only got to hold him properly once because he was so fragile. We got to see him a few more times, but because of his fragile state, he had to be taken back to, I presume, the morgue. The next morning we left the hospital with nothing but photographs and prints of his tiny hands and feet. As we walked to the car, we passed a couple leaving with their newborn baby, the first thing the new mother decided to do with her freedom was light up her cigarette, baby in the other arm. If I was a violent person I would have punched her right in the face. Sometimes life just isn’t fair.

A month later, after the post-mortem was complete, we had a small funeral. It was very short, a few words were said before I carried Dylan’s tiny coffin to his plot. It was December, the grass was frozen underfoot, I couldn’t help but think how cold he was going to be. Time passed slowly after that, people told me it would get easier – I didn’t believe them. How could you possibly get through something like this? Well the thing is, you do – and I did.

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290 days later, on 3rd September 2013, in the same hospital, in the same maternity ward, Hamish Dylan Hicks was born.

Pregnancy hadn’t been a fun experience, I was terrified something was going to go wrong. I had a scan every two weeks to make sure everything was okay, sitting waiting for my appointment was always a stressful time, but everything was going smoothly. I was admitted to hospital with pre-eclampsia at 34 weeks + 5 days. I was told that I would be stay in hospital until I was 37 weeks, then I would be induced. But at 35 weeks + 2 days, the morning after I’d had my last steroid injection, there was concerns about Hamish’s heartbeat on my CTG scan, he had to come out straight away. Nick wasn’t at the hospital, we were having carpet fitted in our hallway that morning, I rang him 5 times before he answered the phone. I was carted in to theatre and told that we couldn’t wait for Nick to arrive, I got my epidural and lay down on the table. Just as I was numb enough to be sliced open, Nick careered through the door with his scrubs half on. Hamish arrived with a shrill scream a couple of minutes later, I hadn’t realised they’d even started the procedure, Nick and I were just having a chat. I got to hold Hamish for about 30 seconds before he started having difficulty breathing. I didn’t see him again for 3 days. He had a few health complications that couldn’t be taken care of at our hospital, so he was taken to an Intensive Care Neonatal Unit at a hospital 40 miles away, Nick went with him but I had to wait until a bed was free to transfer me to. This was a stressful time, more so for Nick as I was off my face on pain medication, but I knew he was going to be okay, I didn’t got a second thing anything bad would happen to him. It’s strange to think about how laid back I was that Hamish got taken away, I would put up one hell of a fight if someone tried to do that now – I’m going to blame it on the morphine.

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After receiving some amazing care, Hamish left hospital a week (almost to the minute) after he was born, and he has been a healthy, happy boy ever since.

I don’t really know how to put in to words what it’s like to give birth to a stillborn, it takes you to a dark place, it feels like you will never be happy again. But I am happy again, I am happier than I have ever been, I feel so lucky that after going through such a traumatic experience, I ended up with such an amazing baby boy. We don’t talk about Dylan very often, but I think about him a lot. Sometimes I feel guilty that we are having fun without him, or sad that he didn’t have the same luck as Hamish. It’s a difficult thing to think about – if Dylan had survived, Hamish wouldn’t be here. That causes such a mix of emotions inside me that I couldn’t begin to explain it out loud – as I don’t understand it myself.

One of the gravestones near Dylan’s reads ‘A moment in our arms, a lifetime in our hearts’ – pretty cheesy, but very true.

You can find out more about us through my Instagram; http://instagram.com/lyndsay_buchanan

If anyone has/is struggling with the aftermath of stillbirth, or just wants a chat, my ears are open. Alternatively, I know that Sands (https://www.uk-sands.org/) are excellent.

‘Mummy, Where Do Babies Come From?’

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‘How do bees make babies Mummy?’

Picture the scene. It’s Friday, I’ve just got home from work and my 7 year old daughter is telling me about a boy she knows who’s Mummy has 9 children and is pregnant again. I am shocked. Not by the number of children this woman has but my daughter’s comment. ‘It’s not her fault Mummy she has so many babies it’s not like she decides to have another one every year they just keep growing inside her’.

What I found so tricky about this conversation is that maybe I should have left it at that and changed the subject, but I just couldn’t. I couldn’t let my intelligent 7 year old think that’s how women get pregnant. She knows a lot about pregnancy and birth, being the daughter of a midwife and often hears me giving early labour advice on the phone or speaking to my colleagues ‘She’s how many centimetres dilated? Ok tell her to start filling the pool I’ll be there in half an hour’.

So I poured myself a glass of wine for Dutch courage and told her how a woman gets pregnant. I explained why men have willies that go hard, why fannies aren’t actually where we we wee from (diagrams helped with this bit) and I think she was pretty amazed. She liked the fact that she came from the mixing of an egg and sperm and was impressed at how clever the creation of life is. All was going well, I was giving myself a pat on the back for my diagrams and explanations. Brownie points for me. My motto is always be honest with my children and answer anything they ask me honestly.

Later that evening when I was tucking her into bed she brought up the subject again.

‘Mummy, you know that thing adults do to make a baby?’

‘Sex you mean Anya, remember it’s called sex’ I replied

‘Yeah sex, well have you and Daddy just done it twice you know to make me and Marnie?’

‘Of course sweetie, just those two times.’

Has anyone else had this conversation with their children yet? And at what age did you or them bring up the conversation?

Birth Story Of The Week – Helen and Matilda

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Hello! I’m Helen, mother to two fabulous and very loud children – Matilda, aged five, and Hugo, three. I am one-half of the comedy duo Scummy Mummies. We produce a number one podcast and comedy show taking a funny, honest look at the scummier side of parenting.

But my entrance into motherhood was quite the opposite – in fact my first labour was your full-on, all-natural, candle-burning, classical music-playing, yoga-chanting-in-the-lounge type of home birth. It was so calm, so lovely, and not very scummy at all. How my life has changed since then…

It all began when my waters broke at 9.45pm. I remember this very clearly as I was watching a show about John Prescott and laughed so hard that I thought I had wet my pants. There was a big whoosh of water and it just kept dribbling everywhere. I still think it’s hilarious that it was John Prescott who sent me into Labour…

My husband’s reaction was to run around in circles while looking panic-stricken. Obviously this was very helpful for me. I do recommend other birthing partners do the same. The contractions started at 11.30pm. At first they were about half an hour apart, but then they sped up fairly quickly. I tried to breathe through them and keep positive through the pain. Despite six months of yoga and breathing training, that first proper contraction was a huge shock, but I was determined to stay focused.

I was doing lots of Omming, Owwing and Oooohing – the neighbours must have been thrilled! I know my husband was. It might sound ridiculous, but it worked like magic and I felt really able to manage the pain. I rang the hospital and at about 3am a midwife came to the house. I had dilated to nearly 2cm and was getting strong contractions every 10 minutes. The midwife told me to take a Panadol and lie down, adding that she would come back later. I had been hoping for some lovely drugs and a massage, but apparently I was coping so well I didn’t need them – bummer! So my husband and I were left to do our 10 minute moaning sessions by ourselves.

But the midwife did give me an amazing piece of very simple advice: “Always lower your shoulders when the contractions come, and slow down your breathing.” Funnily enough, this got me through! I had a lovely bath (cue the candles and classical music) which helped me to relax and get into the rhythm of the contractions. Will, my husband, made himself useful by reminding me to only do “out breaths” and stay calm. He massaged my back and hands as I lay on my side in the bath and concentrated on my breathing. When I stopped focusing I started thinking about the pain too much, which made my breath get short and then I would throw up. That bit wasn’t so great!

At one point, which I now think was transition, I screamed, “I want to go to hospital and have an epidural” – followed by lots of swearwords I now forget. But Will kept me positive and helped me to keep breathing and relaxing.

By around 7am, I knew things were really happening so we rang the hospital again. By this time I was sitting in the lounge on a fit ball while Will set up the pool. I tried using the Tens machine but this seemed to make the contractions worse, so I decided it wasn’t right for me (i.e. I through it across the room in a rage.)

I should also mention that this was when my husband turned to me and said, “I’m really tired, you know – I did a full day’s work yesterday.” This was not his best moment and let’s just say I didn’t have a lot of sympathy for his predicament.

The midwife arrived at 8am, by which time I had dilated to 7cm. I was doing my contractions over the ball, swaying a lot, doing my “golden thread breath” and making the “ssshhhhh” sound. About half an hour later I got into the lovely warm pool and started using more sounds to get through the pain – lots of Ooooos, Ohhhhhs and Aaaaawwws. Again, this sounds funny now I think about it, but it was a really good way of communicating my pain levels to the midwife. Will said it was like listening to a car being tuned! (He watches a lot of Top Gear.)

My midwife, Claire, who had been visiting us at home in the run-up to the birth, had just started her shift and we got a call to say she could come straight away to deliver my baby. I nearly cried. It was so lovely to have the midwife I adored and trusted with me.

Claire arrived just as the second stage really kicked-off. We had more candles, more classical music and everyone spoke very softly and calmly. The pushing part was intense, but I got through it with all those sounds while holding tightly to Will’s hands. I ended up on all fours which was great, as I could look at him and feel supported by the water. (It was also good as there were a couple of incidents in the pool that required a sieve and I was pleased not to see that – I did regret eating lamb shanks the night before.)

When Matilda’s head crowned, the midwife told me to put my hands down and catch her. With one big push, a twist and a turn, I pulled her out of the water and held her in my arms. She came out screaming and was big, purple and amazing. She yelled for about 15 minutes, so she was definitely alive and well! We decided to name her Matilda Claire – this means “strong and mighty” as she was then and remains today! She also shares her middle name with my sister and, of course, my midwife.

We left the cord attached while I sat in the pool for an hour. It was so calm and relaxing. Matilda and I shared some lovely skin to skin contact as she kicked about in the water. The midwives gave me a huge spoonful of honey and made themselves a cuppa.

Then it was time for stage three – Will cut the cord, I hopped out of the pool and the midwives popped a carrier bag on the floor. The placenta flopped out with one big push! I have never felt so glamorous in my life. The midwife checked my downstairs for war wounds and to my relief, no stitches were required! What a vagina!

And what a baby! Matilda was born on her due date, Tuesday 28 October, at 11.45am. She weighed 8lbs 3oz and was gorgeous.

The midwives left around 2pm. Will, Matilda and I hung out on the coach staring at each other for a few hours. Then my mum and dad arrived to make us cheese on toast. Job done!

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My daughter is nearly six now and I have since had a second hippy-dippy, drug-free, moan-filled water birth. It was just as wonderful and I highly recommend it! I feel extremely lucky to have had a supportive husband and brilliant midwives helping to make both my births truly beautiful experiences.

Anyway, that’s enough lovely gushing. I must get back to writing about feeding my kids Haribo and fish fingers for dinner.

The Scummy Mummies Podcast is available for free via iTunes or ScummyMummies.com. Check out episode 14, ‘Midwife Crisis’, featuring the fabulous Clemmie Hooper! The Scummy Mummies stage show is performed monthly at The Hob in Forest Hill – visit their website for details. Twitter: @scummymummies

Birth Story Of The Week – Alice and Jonty

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I had an induced labour: I have an autoimmune disease and had had a previous operation on my diaphragm so late pregnancy was very painful for me. This, coupled with an apparently giant baby (off the charts at 35 weeks) meant that my consultant was keen to induce if I went overdue. Which I did. The pain actually lessened a lot in the last few days before the induction, as the baby dropped down, and I toyed with the idea of cancelling the induction but I was too impatient to meet our baby, and fed up of being pregnant!

I went in for the induction at 6am on the Monday morning. I had a pessary inserted at 8 and was encouraged to walk about. A few flights of stairs later and by 2pm I was experiencing bad period pains. By 4 they had turned into contractions. I carried on walking about and strapped on my tens machine. By 9 I was getting three in ten and I finally got the midwife to agree to examine me (after she’d hooked me up to the monitor to check I actually was contracting – I was!). I was only 2cm dilated so my husband Tom was sent home and told to expect a call in the night.

The contractions got worse and worse so I was examined again in the early hours of the morning but hadn’t progressed. They took the pessary out and I had some pethidine so I could sleep. A couple of hours later I was pacing the corridors again. I really hated labouring on my own, I wished I could have been at home, especially as I was on the main ward, with women whose inductions hadn’t worked or ones who needed their babies monitoring. I felt bad that my labour was progressing well and din’t want to cry out. The hours seems to drag by, I bounced on my ball, used my tens and tried to listen to music – Bonobo worked best for me.

By the morning, I was 4cm but there was no room on labour ward. By this point I was getting worked up. I had a bath, but that meant I had to take the tens off, and I couldn’t get it back up to the level I’d had, so went without. We finally went to labour ward about midday, where I leapt on the gas and air. I had the drip put up and my waters broke. I had an epidural, which was lovely. Until I began to be able to feel one leg. At first I thought this was hilarious but it quickly became that I could feel pain in one leg, then half of contractions, then all my contractions. When they checked my cervix the epidural fell out. I was fully dilated and ready to push. The pain was so intense, I’d gone from contractions at 5cm to fully dilated contractions with no pain in between, and the jump felt massive.

They got another epidural in but I was already pushing by then. The midwife kept putting her finger in up to one knuckle and saying that’s where the head was – but the distance didn’t change and I couldn’t push any more. I felt suddenly very calm as I told them I couldn’t push this baby out. They said he was too far down for a c-section but the doctor would come. I knew I needed help, he’d turned at the last minute and so was back to back and stuck.

The doctor arrived and got out the forceps. By this point the epidural had sunk in again (phew!) so I had one episiotomy, and then another. But Jonty was born in a big tumble, like a lamb on Countryfile and I tore badly. It was ten to 1 on the Wednesday morning. I don’t remember seeing him, although apparently they did put him on me. I can just remember the doctors assessing how much of my anal sphincter was damaged and thinking ‘this really has gone wrong now’. I was losing a lot of blood so they rushed me off the theatre, leaving Tom to have skin to skin with Jonty.

I went into shock apparently so don’t remember much of what happened next but I had a bad third degree tear which they stitched up. After about an hour I was wheeled out, Tom and little Jonty met us in the corridor and I had my first cuddle. He was visibly starving and I felt so dreadful that I hadn’t been able to feed him.

That remains the worst part of it all.

But anyway, he fed well that night and has continued to do so. My recovery was slow and I spent another couple of days in hospital as i kept fainting and had a crazy high pulse rate. The first few months were very painful, and I’ve been left without much pelvic floor strength but I’m having physio. I’ll have a C section next time and it feels a bit sad that I’ll never get the birth I’d hoped for, but having a lovely baby is so worth it. I wish it had gone differently and massively regret being induced but I wasn’t to know. I’m just so lucky that it didn’t affect how I bonded with Jonty, he fed well from the beginning and is now a massive 22lb at 6 months. He’s a superstar and I love being his mama.

Stand And Deliver!

“In an ‘Active Birth’ the mother herself is in control of her body. She moves and changes position freely – she is the birth giver. Whereas in an actively managed birth, all the power is taken from her, her body is controlled and she is a passive patient.” (Janet Balaskas).

A month or two ago we had a student midwife from Ireland observing our team as part of her elective placement. She joined me at a hospital birth for one of my women who was having an induction. As the induction was considered high risk, continuous monitoring was recommended for my woman. We were in a delivery room that looked similar to this.

To optimise maximum space and allow my woman to move around and stay active I did the following.

  • I pushed the bed length ways against the wall and raised it up high
  • I used birth mats and a large bean bag on the floor to create a nest on the floor
  • I turned the lights off and shut the blind and used a small lamp for low level lighting
  • I moved the CTG machine into the corner of the room and set up the telemetry setting so she could mobilise more freely
  • Once I had checked the resustaire I moved it out of the way and covered it in a blanket

During the day whilst caring for my woman in labour my student whispered in my ear that she’d never seen a woman labour so actively. She was use to seeing women on the bed, or lying on their side on the bed. Even when there no epidural on board. She said in the hospital where she trained there where birthing balls and mats but were often kept in the store room and never openly offered to women. She also said that because most the women she had seen were told they had  to get onto the bed, they then often asked for an epidural as it was too painful labouring lying down.

This sort of ‘changing room’ technique I’ve devised is not unusual to my midwifery practice. Active birth was first introduced to me as a first year student midwife 10 years ago. It became something I was so passionate about I even wrote my final year dissertation on the subject ‘Alternative Positions of the Mother in the Second Stage Of Labour’. There have been hundreds of studies written about why staying up right and moving around in labour is more beneficial for the woman. So just to clarify some on the benefits

Benefits of active birth:

  • Shorter, more efficient labour
  • Help the labouring mum to cope with the intensity of contractions
  • Less risk of foetal distress as there is better blood flow to the placenta
  • Working with gravity rather than against it
  • Partners can help to give physical support, helping them to get involved
  • Minimal trauma for mum and baby

And just so you know….. I had an induction with my second baby which meant a lot more monitoring but I still insisted on staying upright, asking for the bed to be raised, for a birthing ball and mats. It can be done, here’s photographic proof! (excuse the bad bra shots)

I often hear women telling me their births stories, and a common theme comes through ‘I had to get on the bed to have monitoring’ or ‘The midwife/doctor need to listen to the baby’s heartbeat so I got on the bed’. There is no rule written in any guideline/hospital policy that says any woman has to be on the bed for monitoring. If it is advised that it is safer to monitor your baby’s heart beat during labour with a CTG machine then ask to stand, lean over the bed, sit on a ball because this is your labour and you know the benefits of staying upright.  Get your birth partner to ask for the bed to moved, for a birthing ball (or take your own in) or for birthing mats to be put down on the floor. Any unnecessary equipment can be moved out of the way to make space for you to be active.

So if you’re pregnant and getting near to your due date, write your birth plan and make sure your birth partner knows all about active birth. There are some great examples of women having active births on labour wards all over the UK. Us midwives know it works and is more beneficial for labour. But maybe sometimes we just need reminding to get off the bed.

active birth

 

Birth Story Of The Week – Amy and Harry

amy breeze

Here is my birth story. I had a textbook pregnancy; didn’t suffer with morning sickness, felt great most of the time and loved being pregnant. So I suppose I was due a not so textbook labour. I wrote more over on my blog Baby Breeze.

Thursday 10 July 2014.
11:45pm
I woke up with what I thought was really bad trapped wind! I thought it was one of the signs my body was getting ready for labour to start in a few day’s time.

Friday 11 July 2014.
12:15am
Paul arrived home from work to find me in the bathroom, asking him to help me! I wasn’t sure if it was wind or labour, either way it hurt and not much was happening!

12:15 – 2:25am
Paul went to bed, if it was labour we assumed it would be a while so he’d better get some sleep after an 8 hour shift. I kept going from sitting on the loo, to trying to go back to bed, to walking around the bedroom, to leaning over the bed or bathroom sink! I didn’t know what to do with myself.
In a few of my visits to the loo I had a bowl movement, again I just assumed it was one of the signs my body was getting ready for labour and why I was in so much pain.

2:25am
Finally something happened, I felt/heard a pop then there was a big gush of water, like a water balloon popping (luckily I was on the loo, again!). My waters had broken. This WAS labour.

2:30am
I started timing, what I now knew, were contractions. Paul was telling me to call the birth centre and let them know my waters had broken. With my natal hypnotherapy I didn’t want to go too early. But I was uncomfortable and in pain.

The contractions were about 1 and half minutes apart, lasting 20-30 seconds. After timing for about 5 mins I called the birth centre. The midwife guided me through, deep breathing. I needed to go in to be checked over as my waters had broken.

3:00am
We grabbed the bags, in which I’d put the last minute bits on Thursday. Maybe I knew something was happening earlier in the day. I got dressed and off we went.

3:30am
We arrived at the birth centre. The midwife met us and took us into a birth room to check me over. My blood pressure was good, then the examination. That was easier said than done. Between contractions I somehow managed to lay on the couch; but still not long enough for a proper examination. I moved to a position leaning over the birth pool where I felt I needed to be sick; so yet another trip to the bathroom!

4:00am
I started using the gas and air so the midwife can do a proper examination. The baby was breech. An ambulance was called to take me to hospital. At this point I was leaning over the emptying birth pool :( with Paul holding my hand and helping me through my contractions and giving me water. All I could think was I don’t want to go to hospital, I want the baby here, I don’t want to be in an ambulance, I don’t want to lay on a bed and I knew the baby was coming.

The midwife had a visual check (using a torch!). The midwife made the decision, I wouldn’t be going to hospital, I wouldn’t make it, the baby wanted to come and it would be more dangerous to have the baby in the ambulance than the birth centre. The midwives started to get prepared.

4:16am
Soon after came an overwhelming urge to push, the baby was on its way. The urge took over the feeling of pain and was primal. More midwives came in to help. The baby’s heartbeat needed to be checked…Nothing. A heart stopping moment for Paul and I. But then we heard it, baby was just in a position that made it hard to find, it was normal.

Time to start pushing. I did the initial pushing still in a standing position, not wanting to lay down, knowing it would make my pelvis smaller and pushing harder. Initially I was grunting through the contractions but was told by the midwife to use that energy for a bigger push. It was working, the baby was nearly here. For breech delivery laying down is the best position to be in. This was all explained to me; even though I didn’t want to be laying down I knew it was best for me and the baby. So I moved to the couch with my bum on the edge ready for delivery.

A few pushes later and the bottom was out, a couple more then the legs and torso. I was nearly there, ready to meet our baby, I was still using the gas and air and had Paul holding my hand encouraging me the whole time. The contractions subsided a little with the head still not delivered so I had to have a small episiotomy. The baby was here. But no crying, Paul went to the midwives to check all was ok…Then there was the cry.

4:56am Harry was born.

It wasn’t quite the labour and delivery I was expecting, no time to use natal hypnotherapy, but I have no doubt that helped me stay calm, focused and take the fact Harry was breech in my stride. I listened to my body. Undiagnosed breeches are rare, it’s even rarer to have a midwife delivery, but as a team we did it and I wouldn’t change it. After 5 hours of labour our beautiful baby boy was here. Now to start the next chapter.

breech birth 2 breech birth 3 breech birth 4 breech birth